Israeli home match Euro ban lifted by UEFA
JERUSALEM, Sept 15 (Reuters) - European soccer's governing body on Friday lifted a ban on home matches in Israel a month after the end of the war with Hizbollah guerrillas.
The ban was imposed early last month, forcing all Israeli home fixtures under UEFA's jurisdiction to be played at other venues in European countries.
Nearly 1,200 people were killed in Lebanon and more than 150 Israelis were killed in the 34-day conflict which was sparked after Hizbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12. Fighting ended in a ceasefire August 14.
'UEFA has today (Friday) informed the Israeli FA of its decision to lift the ban on European matches taking place in Israel with immediate effect. This follows the decision to relocate all matches to neutral territory made on 7 August 2006 due to the conflict in the area,' a statement on the UEFA Web site said.
Matches can only be played in the Tel Aviv area and it will allow Israel to host their next Euro 2008 home qualifier set for November against Croatia to be played as originally scheduled at the National Stadium in the city.
Israel are in qualifying Group E with England, Russia, Croatia, Macedonia, Estonia and Andorra.
Hapoel Tel Aviv will also benefit, as they will be able to host their UEFA Cup first-round second leg tie against Chernomorets Odessa of Ukraine at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv on September 28. They won Thursday's away leg 1-0.
Israel's other UEFA Cup representative, Maccabi Haifa, hosted their first-round home leg against Litex Lovech of Bulgaria in the Netherlands on Thursday and will go into the away leg with a 1-1 scoreline.